Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington was recently given a one year contract extension. This came less than 10 days after spring training started and many expected that he would manage the 2014 season without it. I figured that if Jon Daniels didn’t work out the extension by spring training, that was a sure sign that it would be held off until at least the 3/4 part of the season.
But, now the deed is done, Jon Daniels has avoided what could have been a lame duck season for Washington, but in my opinion, I don’t think Washington would have given it a second thought.
If you have ever watched Moneyball you might remember the scene with Art Howe and Billy Beane. Art is complaining to Billy about getting a contract extension and has a hard time going along with Billy’s big picture plan for the team.
Now we know that’s Hollywood and some drama has been added to the script, so don’t start arguing with the there. But my point is Washington don’t care and know’s how baseball go. And yes, that was said that way on purpose. That’s how Washington is, he plays the game and keeps focused.
Looking forward, past 2015, which to me a one year contract just tells me that Jon Daniels isn’t too confident about Washington. One year is enough to cut ties if things go wrong this season. So what will it take for Washington to be the manger past 2015?
Number 3 - Embrace the numbers
One thing we know about Ron Washington is he is a old school guy. It’s hard to argue against what he’s done though. Washington has been able to put together 4 season with 90 or more wins in a row. And he’s one of the best in the league with the bunt. Also, he has seemed to be quite effective with his players and his lineup. But, it hasn’t been enough to win the big one. And you all know what I’m talking about, the World Series. One thing that Ron Washington hasn’t done is to embrace sabermetrics. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect him to be a Bill James, but the numbers do matter. And for going against a National League team like the St. Louis Cardinals, it could and probably would have helped. Maybe you would have seen that Nelson Cruz plays poorly in the right at Busch Stadium, or just not the best fielder in general. Maybe he would have recognized the Endy Chavez is better fielding and he would have been an great option in right. I’m not saying it is a must do for Washington, he has done well so far, but if he does improve here, he could see more wins in 2014, maybe mid to high 90s. And if that happens, the Rangers could win the West maybe the best record in the American League.
Number 2 – Rest the players
Also, another thing I would like to see is Washington resting players, when necessary. To me, last season there were several games that to me seemed very important and I hate to say must win, but players like Ian Kinsler would get a day off. I know that Washington can’t always control days off. Some players have that worked in their contract. And you would think that Prince Fielder has something in his contract that states he doesn’t get a day off. I say that because in the past 5 years, Fielder has maybe had 7 days off. And you have players like Manny Ramirez, who got a bit better over the years, but Manny would claim an injury just to get a day off. One time Manny was injured and Terry Francona asked him which leg was bothering him and he told Terry you pick. I really don’t think any current Rangers do that kind of stuff. But there is a balance that Washington needs to manager. There are some games you can afford to rest players and others you can’t. Some games you need all men on deck. I say that, because the past 2 seasons, the Rangers have lost the division or missed the playoffs by one game. ONE GAME! So when people say that baseball is 162 and it is only one game. Remember they lost division on the last day of the season in 2012 and missed the playoffs in 2013 by one game.
Number 1 – Win the Series
Your first thought here is probably thinking win the World Series. We’ll yes, we would all love that. That is the goal of every manager when a new season starts, but lets be real. There is only one winner out of 30 teams. It’s not easy doing it, and it is an honor to just make it that far. What I hope, is they win their games this season. Every season, every month, every week, and every day, they are battling to win some kind of series. Right now, they are focus on spring training games, and really, right now it isn’t about winning a game by having the highest score. Right now for Ron Washington it is about watching the players to see who is winning the talent series.
Think about it, Adam Rosales, Engel Beltre and Brent Lillibridge, just to name a few, are out there battling for a spot on the roster. Washington right now has to watch and determine which player will be on the Opening day roster. That’s a “series” that Washington can’t afford to lose. We need the absolute best 25 players out there on the field. If we don’t then we could have a rough April. Look at the Angels the past couple of years, they pretty much were out of the playoff race when the calendar rolled over to May. To Washington’s credit, the past several years, the Rangers have started off red-hot, which has kept them in the playoff race. And especially last year! If it wasn’t for their excellent April, their horrible September just would have been an exclamation point on the season.
This year will need to be about winning and keeping that as a team focus. There are a lot of angles you can take on the past 4 years. I’m talking about 2010 losing the World Series, 2011 losing the World Series after being very close to winning, 2012 and 2013 missing out totally. Some people say the Rangers collapsed at the end. That is one key thing that Washington can’t do this year. I’ll qualify this, if he has a healthy team going in to August, the team can’t repeat what has happened the last 2 season. They must finish strong and hopefully make the playoffs. Once there, win the series!